Class 3A Division II Region II
Final

Gladewater Bears (7-6)

vs.

No. 1 Argyle Eagles (13-0)

6:30 p.m. Monday

Panther Stadium, Hewitt

 

Coaches

  • Gladewater: Jerrod Baugh
  • Argyle: Todd Rodgers

 

Last week

 

Next week

  • Winner plays Graham or Shallowater in a 3A Division II state semifinal.

 

Playmakers

Gladewater

  • DT/FB Daylon Mack, Jr., 6-1, 310 (committed to Texas A&M; 46 carries, 295 yards, 10 TDs; 91 tackles, 33 for loss, 5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 PBU, 1 punt block, 1 safety)
  • RB James Reese, Jr., 5-9, 155 (197 carries, 1,352 yards, 10 TDs; 8 catches, 115 yards, 2 TDs)
  • FB Justice Centers, Soph. (130 carries, 875 yards, 9 TDs; 25 catches, 270 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB Darnell McKnight, Fr. (65 carries, 384 yards, 4 TDs)
  • RB Marcello Jackson, Soph. (101 carries, 549 yards, 4 TDs)
  • QB Nick Canaguier, Jr., 5-10, 140 (74 of 146, 945 yards, 6 TDs, 10 INTs; 46 carries, 224 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DB Daylon "Duke" Gordon, Jr., 5-10, 155 (114 tackles, 6 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 INT, 10 PBU)
  • DL Kenneth Gossett, Sr., 5-7, 165 (48 tackles, 10 for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 safety)
  • LB Kenny Clark (105 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
  • LB Hagen Cooper (99 tackles, 18 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 PBU)

 

Argyle

  • ATH Ian Sadler, Sr., 5-11, 192 (committed to Texas Tech; 10 of 18, 144 yards; 101 carries, 823 yards, 20 TDs; 29 catches, 496 yards, 10 TDs)
  • RB Nick Ralston, Jr., 6-1, 220 (174 carries, 1,453 yards, 26 TDs; 5 catches, 58 yards)
  • QB Brandon Boyzuick, Sr., 6-0, 165 (82 of 124, 1,264 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs)
  • WR Jon Michael Pucciarello, Sr., 5-10, 170 (29 catches, 398 yards, 3 TDs)
  • K Cole Hedlund, Sr., 5-10, 170 (committed to Arkansas; 84 of 84 PATs, 22 of 22 FGs -- long of 52)
  • RB/SS Connor Wilson, Sr., 6-2, 205 (committed to Texas Tech; 17 carries, 168 yards, 6 TDs; 5 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Drew Estrada, Soph. (12 catches, 265 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Hunter Treadwell, Sr., 6-0, 180 (9 catches, 204 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Sweatt Taylor, Soph. (25 carries, 109 yards, 2 TDs)

 

Just the facts

  • Gladewater averages 25.5 points and 362.3 yards per game -- 289.6 rushing and 72.7 passing.
  • For the season, Gladewater has run 761 plays from scrimmage for an average of 6.2 yards per snap.
  • During Gladewater's current four-game winning streak, the Bears are averaging 38.8 points and 448.3 yards per game -- 366.8 rushing and 81.5 passing.
  • Over its last four, Gladewater has run 244 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.3 yards per snap.
  • The cumulative record of the six teams that have defeated Gladewater this season -- Pittsburg, Athens, Gilmer, Bullard, Kilgore and Chapel Hill -- is 50-20.
  • The last time Gladewater advanced to the state semifinals was 1989.
  • Gladewater has been to the state-quarterfinal round twice since 1989 -- 1990 and 2001.
  • Gladewater's seven wins are the fewest of any team remaining in the 11-man playoffs from Class 5A-1A.
  • Argyle averages 53.5 points and 396.3 yards per game -- 252.9 rushing and 143.4 passing.
  • For the season, Argyle has run 697 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.4 yards per snap.
  • During the playoffs, Argyle is averaging 52.3 points and 463.3 yards per game -- 336.7 rushing and 126.6 passing.
  • Since the postseason began, Argyle has run 183 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.6 yards per snap.
  • Argyle's average margin of victory during the regular season was 44.7 points.
  • During the playoffs, Argyle is outscoring opponents by 26.7 points on average.
  • Since 2009, Argyle is 63-6 with two of those losses occurring to East Texas teams -- Carthage in 2010 and Gilmer in 2012.

 

Gladewater's Daylon Mack looks to the sideline during the Bears' 34-33 area-round playoff win over Altanta on Nov. 22 in Longview. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Argyle offensive line vs. Gladewater defensive front. The key to Argyle's high-scoring offense is its rushing attack, which is made possible by its offensive line. And the Eagles up front figure to receive a stern test Friday night from a Gladewater defensive front, anchored by junior defensive tackle Daylon Mack, whose impact on the game can't be measured by stats alone. Mack, a recent Texas A&M commit, is one of the highest-rated recruits in the nation in the 2015 class and it's easy to see why by turning on the game film. Few players at the high school level are as big, strong, quick and athletic as Mack, who stands 6-foot-1, weighs 310 pounds and ran a laser-timed 4.84 40-yard dash and recorded 21 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press at the ETSN.fm combine last May. Mack's stats are certainly nothing to ignore with more than 30 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight forced fumbles on the season.

Argyle's Nick Ralston is brought down by Gilmer's Blevin Burns during the Eagles' 45-38 regional-semifinal playoff win Nov. 29 in Dallas. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

During last week's regional-semifinal win over Gainesville, Mack had six tackles (three for loss), but his sheer presence forced Gainesville to divert plays in the other direction where the Bears had ample defenders waiting to make the play. Gladewater, fueled by its dominant defensive line, held run-oriented Gainesville to just 54 rushing yards and finished with 11 tackles for loss as a team. Part of what makes Mack so dominant is his quickness and explosion off the snap. On several occasions last week, Mack was already in the backfield before the quarterback had a chance to hand the ball off to the running back.

Argyle, like Gainesville, is extremely run-heavy with its play selection, but its wide array of formations help keep the Eagles less vulnerable to opposing defenses. Gainesville rarely was in the shotgun formation against Gladewater last week, while most of what Argyle does offensively is based out of the gun. This could work in Argyle's favor as the quarterback will have more time to make decisions before being confronted by Gladewater's oncoming defenders. Argyle's misdirection and pre-snap shifting of personnel also work to slow down an aggressive defensive front. One thing to look for is how often Argyle changes its snap count in an effort to keep the Gladewater down-linemen from getting a quick start off the ball.

Gladewater RB James Reese. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Junior running back Nick Ralston and senior running back/receiver Ian Sadler have worked beautifully in tandem all season for Argyle. The two have taken turns leading the offense in the last two weeks. In the Eagles' 55-27 area-round defeat of Melissa, Ralston ran for a season-high 365 yards and five touchdowns. Sadler stole the show in last week's 45-38 victory over Gilmer, accounting for 220 yards of offense and five touchdowns. For the season, Ralston and Sadler have accounted for 58 percent of Argyle's total yards and scored 56 of the team's 71 touchdowns. If the Argyle offensive line does its job, it will be difficult for Gladewater to contend with Ralston and Sadler for 48 minutes. Gladewater must penetrate the backfield early and often, forcing Argyle into second- and third-and-long situations. Argyle has not attempted more than 24 passes in a game all season simply because it hasn't had to. It's Gladewater's job to force the Eagles into the air by containing what's been an extremely potent rushing attack all season.

Gladewater's Darnell McKnight powers through Gainesville defenders during the Bears' 24-17 regional-semifinal playoff win Nov. 30 in Royse City. (Jaime R. Carrero, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Both defenses load the box with eight- and nine-man fronts to take away the offensive strengths. If that happens, it will be up to the two quarterbacks -- Gladewater junior Nick Canaguier and Argyle senior Brandon Boyzuick -- to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups on the edge and in the middle of the field. Boyzuick is the more accomplished of the two quarterbacks, but Canaguier has shown steady improvement since the beginning of the season. After throwing an interception in eight of 10 regular-season games, Canaguier has not thrown a pick in the playoffs -- 20 attempts in three games. Until Boyzuick's two-touchdown performance last week, the Argyle quarterback had not thrown a touchdown pass since an Oct. 17 win over Carrollton Ranchview. With both signal-callers playing well of late, it would not be surprising to see either team try to take shots down the field in the passing game in an effort to steal a quick lead.

While Gladewater is certainly a better football team now than it was before the postseason began, the Bears are facing one of the best teams in Class 3A. The Bears are obviously not strangers to facing top-notch competition, having survived 16-3A, a.k.a. the "District of Doom," to reach the playoffs. But in Gladewater's losses to the district's other three playoff representatives -- Gilmer, Kilgore and Chapel Hill -- the Bears were outscored 127-39. For Gladewater to pull the upset and continue its improbable postseason run, the Bears must play their best game of the season and be fortunate enough to capitalize on any mistakes Argyle may commit.